11 Food Trends That Are Going To Be Big In 2022
Predicting anything in a public forum like this is difficult. It’s a high-risk, low-reward thing to do where the best-case scenario is that you’re vindicated for being “mostly” right and the worst-case scenario is you look like a complete fool who doesn’t have any intuition or accurate gauge of how their supposed field of expertise works.
All you need to do is look back on how wrong American film producer Darryl F. Zanuck was when he predicted that “television won't be able to hold on to any market” because “people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night” to see how a simple statement about the future can seem utterly ludicrous in hindsight. I love staring at a plywood box every night. It makes me very happy and soothes my anxious brain.
Anyway, with all that being said, I’m going to risk making myself look like an absolute idiot here by trying to predict what sort of food trends are going to be big in 2022. Yep. These are the answers that I’d spout at you if you came up to me at the pub and said: “Lucas, what are the biggest food trends of 2022 going to be?” Obviously don’t come up to me and actually do that. Just read this instead. And if you’re reading this in 2024 and thinking “God, this Lucas is an absolute pillock” just leave it out, yeah? I’m trying my best!
All right, this is a bit of a rogue choice considering that spätzle is a food that’s been hugely popular in countries like Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland for literal decades. It’s still yet to really make a mark in the UK, though, and I can see this comforting noodle finally getting its time in the limelight in 2022. Restaurants like The Spärrows in Manchester are trying to show that the dish deserves just as much respect and recognition as its Italian cousin, pasta, and I think it’s only a matter of time before the general public twigs on to how ambrosial this stuff is.
In a similar vein to how spätzle is a comforting dish that I can see people flocking to after a few years of hard graft and grief, I think we’re going to see a return to form for whole milk in 2022. Grub Street has already reported that “hot girls are ditching the alternatives and are going back to basics” and, taking the various environmental concerns about milk alternatives like almond milk into account, it seems logical that people will return to more whole foods. I know that whenever I go out for coffee it’s pretty much sacrilege to order a “skinny” drink and it wouldn’t surprise me if some coffee shops straight-up refused to serve milk alternatives as a form of edgy protest.
I’ve been saying “this year is the year that edible insects will finally take off in the UK” for about four years now. While I’ve yet to see this trend for munching on crunchy roast crickets become a reality just yet, I’m still confident that this year is the year that edible insects will finally take off in the UK. With brands like Eat Grub and Crunchy Critters trying their best to convince people that it’s not nuts to eat bugs, I’m hoping that it won’t be long before we see little packs of cockroaches in Boots nestled next to the seaweed thins.
Congee is a type of rice porridge eaten all across Asia. Calling it a “trend” would be doing its popularity a massive disservice but what I mean by including it on this list of 2022 food trends is that I think we’re going to see the Western world (and British consumers, in particular) embrace congee in the same way they’ve embraced other Asian staples like ramen and bibimbap. Congee is supremely delicious, and the perfect vessel for delivering a range of different flavours. It’s therefore inevitable that someone will try and gentrify the stuff in 2022.
Its name might still conjure up some fairly unpleasant associations but lard is a wondrous substance, folks. Packed with lush meaty undertones, lard is essentially pork fat that has been separated from its animal before being rendered and clarified. Lardo is a regular occurrence on the menu at myriad Italian restaurants and while I can’t envision a scoop of lard being heaped on a grilled flatbread anytime soon, its use as a cooking ingredient makes it ripe for a comeback. Also, now that I think about it, I can totally envision people scooping heaps of lard onto bread. Even if those “people” are limited to just – y'know – me. As a replacement for butter in baking, lard also provides you with a pastry that has unmatched flakiness. There is simply no substitute.
Even More Fake Meat
Speaking of substitutes, plant-based alternatives to meat have been around for a good while now but they’ve been only really been “good” for the last couple of years. As the quality of meat-free sausages, mince, and meatballs continues to rise, so will the sales numbers of those products. We all need to be more conscious of our meat consumption and these tasty alternatives provide an easy way to do just that. I just wish we could stop calling them shit like “chick’n” – it’s really annoying and reminds me of those people who would self-censor themselves on MSN and write sentences with words like “$h!t” in them.
Small plates restaurants are still all the rage right now, nevertheless, the trend I can see taking off in 2021 involves restaurateurs making those plates even smaller. In some cases, getting rid of the plates altogether and simply serving their food on napkins on a big tray. Yep, I’m talking about restaurants that only serve snacks (otherwise known as “pintxos”). The Spanish are masters of bars that serve tasty bites and I reckon the UK is prime for a pintxos craze in the next year. Most spots are already severely understaffed and serving a simple menu of dishes where all you have to do is assemble them on a cocktail stick – using quality produce, mind – is a great way to make the most of what you have available. It’s also something you can do in a much smaller space. Don’t be surprised to see your favourite natural wine haunt pivot to a “snacks only” menu sometime soon.
Even More Alt Milk
I know that I said whole milk is due to have a comeback (and I still think it is) but that doesn’t mean that the opposite can’t be true, too. It’s called hedging your bets. And I’m going to do it because no one can stop me. There are so many alternative milk options on the market now that it’s genuinely hard to tell which is the best tasting and best for the planet. Soy, almond, and oat are still the biggest sellers of the three but other choices like coconut milk, pea milk, seed milk, hemp milk, and rice milk are all trying to give them a run for their money. UK-based Bright Barley has recently launched the UK's first alternative milk made from barley, and I predict that there will be at least two new dairy-free drink products created made from things you never knew could be milked in the next calendar year.
Environmentally Conscious Products
This is admittedly more of a hope than an outright prediction but climate change has long been a hot button issue within the food world and more companies making food products need to be held accountable for how much waste they’re producing and the environmental damage they’re doing. Talk regarding the introduction of things like food miles and an “eco-grade” on the packaging of food products in supermarkets has been simmering for a while and I’d love to see something concrete come to fruition.
Scientists have been trying to successfully grow affordable meat for a very long time. The biggest problem is that growing enough of the stuff to make a product that (a) doesn’t taste horrendous, and (b) isn’t horrendously expensive isn’t easy. That being said, I think we’re getting closer and someone is going to attempt to profit on cultured meat pretty soon. Late last year in Singapore, the US company Eat Just gained approval to sell its nuggets of lab-grown chicken to the masses. It’s only a matter of time before some genius start-up does the same over here.
Do you know what the most-consumed spirit in the world is? If you guessed vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey or rum you'd be dead wrong. The Chinese baijiu (distilled from fermented sorghum) is the world's most-outsells all of those spirits combined. Calling the most popular spirit on the planet a "trend" might seem pretty pathetic and euro-centric but I'm only predicting here that it's going to become even more popular in the UK. The Korean beverage soju has had an upswing in sales in the UK over the last couple of years and I can see the same happening for baijiu. For better or worse, I think that sufferable white scenesters like myself will be drinking more of this in 2022.